Dan Hooker confirms featherweight return is possible, prefers clash with Chan Sung Jung

Dan Hooker
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports & Chris Unger – Zuffa LLC

The #8 ranked UFC lightweight contender, Dan ‘The Hangman’ Hooker has confirmed that a return to the featherweight limit for the first time since November 2016 could be on the card for his UFC comeback early next year. And has announced his preference for a mouth-watering showdown against the #4 ranked contender, one-time title challenger, ‘The Korean Zombie’ Chan Sung Jung.

Hooker, a staple of City Kickboxing, suffered his third loss in his last four Octagon appearances at UFC 267 in October last, dropping a one-sided opening round kimura loss to Islam Makhachev in Abu Dhabi, UAE — replacing an injured former champion, Rafael dos Anjos on a month’s notice. 

The Auckland native began the year with a similarly one-sided loss on ‘Fight Island’ — that time against former three-time Bellator MMA lightweight best, Michael Chandler at UFC 257 in January.

Sandwiched between those two defeats in UAE, Hooker returned to Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC 266 in September where he halted the upstart of talented upstart, Nasrat Haqparast — utilizing his less-than-often seen wrestling en route to a unanimous decision victory.

Dropping from the lightweight upper-echelon with his defeat to Makhachev, Hooker fueled speculation regarding a potential move back to featherweight — confirming that he would be working with a dietician to possibly make the move.

I’m doing a little something, something at the moment,” Hooker said. “You’ve got to make your next move your best move. Let’s just say I’m working with the UFC and the fight dietician very closely and I’m doing a test — a little test run. And we’ll see.

Further adding fuel to the fire, Hooker posted on his social media over the weekend — hitting the scales at 146lbs following a test weight cut to the featherweight limit. And told The MMA Hour host, Ariel Helwani earlier today that a featherweight return was most certainly a “possibility“.

That’s a strong possibility,” Dan Hooker said. “The problem was I didn’t really ask, I just talked to Jordi [Sullivan[ and Charles, my dieticians, and that was it really. I just talked to them and just went along and got the job done and did it. I haven’t even talked to the UFC about it, so maybe Sean Shelby’s seen it, maybe he hasn’t. We’ll see.

As far as preferred opponents for his potential featherweight division return are concerned, Hooker noted his interest in what would surely come as a fan-friendly clash against recent June headliner, Jung. 

Head and shoulders, the number one guy that I would love to get in there would be ‘The Korean Zombie’ [Chan Sung Jung],” Hooker said. “I would love to throw down with the zombie.

So, I don’t know what the people were saying, that’s why I just put it out there, stepped on the scale, made the weight, and I feel like you just let the people decide,” Dan Hooker explained. “Whoever the people want to see me in there against will kind of convince the UFC. What everyone wants, everyone can get, but for me, it would be head and shoulders, ‘The Korean Zombie’.” (H/T MMA Fighting)

Returning to winning-ways back in June in the main event of UFC Vegas 29, Jung managed to clinch the #4 rank within the featherweight rankings — knocking back Dan Ige with a unanimous decision success in his eighth headliner under the promotion’s banner. 

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